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Getty Center
Photograph: Courtesy Unsplash/Lydia Koh Getty Center

Visit your favorite L.A. museums with these virtual tours and exhibitions

Stuck at home? Take a trip through L.A. museums’ online collections and exhibitions.

By Michael Juliano
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Missing L.A.’s best museums? Even in the best case scenario, we’re still looking at many institutions remaining temporarily closed at least into October. But right now you can bring a little piece of them home with you. No, we’re not encouraging art theft: We’re talking about all of the streams, image databases and lecture archives that’ve bubbled up to museums’ homepages. These virtual museums are filling the art-shaped hole in our heart right now. And just like L.A.’s free museums, they (mostly) won’t cost you a dime.

RECOMMENDED: Virtual tours of museums around the world

Virtual museum tours and exhibitions in L.A.

Hammer Museum

Museums Art and design Westwood

The Westwood museum’s free programming is unparalleled (from meditation classes to political forums), and so too is its archive of artist talks, lectures and performances. You’ll find hourlong conversations with artists like Paul McCarthy and Sarah Lucas, lectures on the constitution, profiles on Made in L.A. artists and chats with luminaries like Jane Fonda and Roxane Gay. We particularly love its Q&As from the Contenders, an annual screening series of awards season favorites that feature director and actor talks (think Olivia Wilde, Eddie Murphy, Lulu Wang and Bong Joon-ho).

Getty Center
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Getty Center

Museums Art and design Westside

The Getty’s greatest asset—other than its incredible hilltop location, of course—is its collection. And we don’t just mean the thousands of years of antiquities and Impressionist paintings at the pair of museums: The Getty Research Institute curates over 6,000 years’ worth of books and archival materials, including over 100,000 images (we’re talking everything from medieval manuscripts to Civil War portraits) that you’re free to do whatever you’d like with (including putting them into Animal Crossing). The museum has neatly collected its videos, podcasts, publications and exhibition walkthroughs on its site—with some new virtual talks thrown into the mix, too. If you’re really missing the museum, you can also explore the Getty Center on Google Street View.

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Grammy Museum
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Charlie Essers

Grammy Museum

Museums Music South Park

The Grammy Museum routinely hosts some stellar talks and performances—but there’s a good chance you’ve never been able to scoop up tickets before these intimate events sell out. But now we can all partake from home. Previously, the Museum at Home site posted free exhibition sites and archived events. Now it’s launched a premium streaming service, COLLECTION:live ($2.99 per month), that posts artist interviews, performances and livestreams.

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Urban Light at LACMA
Photograph: Courtesy Unsplash/Ruben Gutierrez

LACMA

Museums Art and design Miracle Mile

If you really want to, you could head over to LACMA right now and snap a selfie in front of Urban Light or Levitated Mass (those street-facing sculptures are still accessible). But the museum’s best content right now is online, where you can listen to chamber music performances, take online courses on social justice and Chinese painting, view exhibitions tours and peruse decades’ worth of scans of exhibition catalogs. Our favorite part of LACMA @ Home, though, is its collection of Artists on Art videos, in which local icons like John Baldessari, Betye Saar, Ed Ruscha and Catherine Opie roam the galleries and talk about their favorite works.

The Broad
Photograph: Courtesy Unsplash/Sam Poullain

The Broad

Museums Art and design Downtown

Forty five seconds. That’s how long you normally have to bathe in the twinkling, reflective abyss of Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room—The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away. But this spring the Broad let us spend as much time with its signature piece as wed’d like—virtually, at least. Though its Infinity Room streams are no longer online, you can now head over to the museum’s YouTube channel for L.A. Intersections: Music, Language, Movement, a three-part video series that was filmed at spaces around the museum.

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MOCA
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikimedia/Minnaert

MOCA

Museums Art and design Downtown

During the spring, Virtual MOCA, the Downtown museum’s online programming, had something different in store each day, including tours, workshops past exhibitions, movie nights, artist takeovers and a virtual book club. That schedule has since slowed down a bit, but you can still support the museum with one of its artist-designed face coverings.

Petersen Automotive Museum
Photograph: Courtesy Petersen Automotive Museum

Petersen Automotive Museum

Museums Transportation Miracle Mile

Though the Petersen’s exhibitions are slick, its best collection is tucked underneath the Miracle Mile car museum. You can get some peeks of its 60,000-square-foot vault, which houses 250 rare and pristine vehicles, on the museum’s YouTube channel, which also hosts all sorts of other car videos. And if you’re looking for a bit of a throwback, you can tour the museum’s pre-2015-makeover configuration on Google Street View.

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Paley Center for Media
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Maciek Lulko

Paley Center for Media

Museums Movies and TV Beverly Hills

When PaleyFest, the Paley Center’s annual screening and Q&A series for TV’s biggest shows, went on hold, the media institution (which formerly had a Beverly Hills museum) launched Paley@Home. You can still scroll through the archives for old panels (think This is UsThe Walking DeadParks and Rec), but we also suggest looking out for its virtual panels with the cast and creators of new and upcoming shows.

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